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Devil in the mountain + Book review

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Brian Lockyer Book Review - Devil in the Mountain September 18th 2009. The book, Devil in the Mountain explores and investigates the formation of the highest mountain ranges on our planet with specific reference to the Andes mountain range in South America. A team of geologists, led my Simon Lamb embark on a historic geological quest to uncover and solve the many mysteries that plague the formation of such mountain ranges. On their epic journey they unravel many clues that have aided in the understanding of the functioning of volcanism and seismic activity in shaping and forming the contemporary world that we live in. The Andes mountain range is associated with high amounts of mineral wealth, particularly in the form of silver. It is this mineral wealth that has, for generation's sparked silver miners in the Andes to believe in the existence of a spirit that haunts the mountains, this spirit is commonly referred to as the Devil in the mountain and for centuries Andean silver miners have attempted to pacify this spirit by making generous offerings of silver. ...read more.


These discoveries are essential in explaining the origin and structure of the Andes. Lamb discusses in detail two theories which have been used to explain how such mountain ranges are supported, one by George Airy, and the other by John Henry Pratt. According to George Airy, a deep root at the base of the crust supports the high-standing land mass at the surface. The Pratt hypothesis, however, visualizes variation in density within the earth and he states that high topography is supported by low-density material beneath the mountain. In the end, Lamb concludes that one may require elements from both these theories in order to explain the high mountain topography. The age of the Andes can be estimated via the analysis of plant fossils and dateable volcanic ash. Lamb plays particular attention to vast areas of hard rock in Guyana and Brazil which act as stiffening 'shanks' in the crust which has influenced the height of the Andes . ...read more.


This theory is also used to explain the occurrence of dry river beds throughout the Andes which have been attributed to tectonic uplift. Throughout the book, Lambert and his team literally unearth and explain in great detail the formation of the Andes by merging geological theory and personal observation. Lamb's amazing and captivating writing style is successful in capturing the attention of the reader and taking him/her on a geological journey of epic proportions. Through his use of diction, Lamb succeeds enormously in transmitting the excitement of conducting science, and his love and passion for the environment is vigorously evident throughout the book. Such books should be made compulsory reading in our university education, particularly for earth sciences students, to let them know that there is more to life than just passing and getting a job, life is full of opportunities and questions that are destined to be answered and through Lamb we bear witness to a man who is compelled to get out there and make a difference. ...read more.

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